AUGUSTA, Maine — Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud announced Monday that he has surpassed the $1 million mark in fundraising for the 2014 governor’s race, though his opponents dismissed the news.
Still more than a week ahead of the Maine Ethics Commission’s next reporting deadline, Michaud said in a news release Monday that more than $700,000 raised in the most recent filing period put him past the $1 million mark. The fundraising total announced Monday adds to the $313,000 Michaud raised in an 18-day span in June 2013 after he announced his candidacy.
“It’s clear that voters are hungry for change and a leader with a proven record of bringing people together,” said Michaud. “I’m deeply humbled by the large number of people who’ve donated their hard-earned money to support my campaign, even in these tough economic times.”
The campaigns for incumbent Republican Gov. Paul LePage and independent Eliot Cutler, Michaud’s opponents in this year’s gubernatorial race, refused Monday to offer any hints about their fundraising totals to date.
Brent Littlefield, LePage’s chief political strategist, said Monday that Michaud’s announcement shows that he is a politician, reflecting early GOP campaign rhetoric that aims to portray the Democrat as a Washington insider and the incumbent Republican governor as a no-nonsense businessman.
“Three-decade politician Michael Michaud has been schooled in the ways of Washington, where raising campaign cash is a higher priority than solving people’s problems,” said Littlefield in a written statement to the BDN.
As for LePage’s fundraising, Littlefield said “we will file our report according to the law and the information will be available then.”
Crystal Canney, a spokeswoman for Cutler, said her campaign is “very happy with where we are,” though she repeated Cutler’s earlier arguments that campaign finance laws in Maine are stacked against independent candidates. That’s because Democrats and Republicans are allowed to collect twice as much from each individual, $1,500 for the primary election and $1,500 for the general election. Independent candidates such as Cutler are limited to a total of $1,500.
“We’ll be interested to see where they can raise the money and what the apples-to-apples comparison will be,” said Canney.
Michaud, whose campaign donations are not yet listed by the Maine Ethics Commission, said in Monday’s release that financial support for his candidacy has come from more than 3,700 donors, nearly 87 percent of whom are individuals. Nearly 45 percent of those donors gave $50 or less, he said.
“Already more than 3,700 individuals have donated to his campaign and more than 20 organizations that represent teachers, environmentalists, police, firefighters, workers and the LGBT community throughout the state have endorsed him,” said Michaud spokeswoman Lizzy Reinholt.
The Michaud campaign said no privately financed gubernatorial candidate in Maine has ever raised as much money by this time in an election cycle.
In the 2010 election, LePage raised and spent about $1.2 million on his victorious campaign. Cutler, who finished a close second, spent almost $2.2 million. Elizabeth Mitchell, the Democratic candidate in 2010, relied on the Maine Clean Election Fund to finance her campaign.
In campaign finance reports from July 2013, which reflected contributions made prior to June 30, 2013, LePage reported donations of $123,000, compared to $430,000 for Cutler. At the time, attributed LePage’s lower total to a state law that prohibits donations to Maine’s governor from some groups, including registered lobbyists, while the Legislature is in session.